Life in Brooklyn

We live in Brooklyn.  Technically part of NYC, but also very different.  So far, Brooklyn is kinda like inner city Melbourne on steroids.  I am sure there are other parts that I haven’t been to yet that are different.  But so far.

I, Jeffrey O. Gustafson CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Arc de Triomphe

We are living in the area known as Pro-Cro.  For those that know, it’s the edge of Prospect Heights and Crown Heights.  The equivalent of where we lived in Melbourne really, if you wanted to call that Carl-Fitz.  Which is dumb.  But Pro-Cro it is.

We live in 6 story apartment block.  We have a fire escape (on which a squirrel has a nest in a disused plant pot).  We have a subway station right beneath us.  There is parking out the front (even though we have to move the car 6 times a week, but that’s another story).  We have a cart to wheel our laundry 2 small blocks to the laundromat (but we do not have the proper laundry bags like everyone else).  We do not have a mail box, so my friend M is letting us use his address instead (so far this hasn’t proved inconvenient for either of us, unless he’s not telling).  The library is just up the street and it is glorious.  And even more glorious is the Arc de Triomphe, I mean the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch, also just up the street in the middle of the ‘wheel of death’ roundabout, I mean circle.

Many mornings, we get an egg and cheese roll from Sal’s Restaurant.  Sal and Mo(hammed) have been running this place forever.  When we first started going in, I was unsure of the system.  There is no proper queue (line, as they say here, if I say queue folks get confused).  I would just wait confusedly until Mo or Sal eventually took my order.  But now, as soon as I walk in, Mo sees me and says “2 egg and cheese?”  Surely a sign of being a local.  (Whilst A is in London, I sneakily ordered one with bacon.  Bacon made it worse, not better.  I don’t really want to contemplate why, but I shall revert to egg and cheese.)

Here is our street

Usually we eat it sitting on one of the benches in the picture above.  I’m not sure how long this will be sustainable.  Right now, even when cold, it is sunny and lovely.  But I am aware that I’m quite oblivious as to what it really means to be cold here.  The other day someone told me that between November and April one cannot feel one’s face when outdoors in NYC.  I hope it’s not true, but the other New Yorker agreed with him so I suspect hoping won’t help.

Things I love about being here

Prospect Park.  If I lived uptown I would probably say Central Park.  But Prospect Park, designed by the same dude whose name I forget, is just as big, and quieter, and around the corner.

Ice rinks.  The first one opened last weekend, and the rest open next weekend.

Halloween.  In Australia Halloween is a bit shit.  But here, everyone is going all out with the decorations.  We are behind with ours, but I do have pumpkins ready for carving when A comes home.  I will have to keep them long into November to make up for all the pre-Halloween time I missed.

There are trains under the street.  Like, just there.  Layers of them.  Yesterday in the park, a small child was dancing excitedly on the sidewalk grate shrieking “train, train”, excited about the sound and the gusts of hot air.  Just like me (although I only dance on the inside).

Punkins. Not mine.

Things I love less about being here

I can’t buy things I want.  Even though I can buy an ASSAULT WEAPON, I cannot buy Phenergen, or Voltaren Gel, or panadeine, or Kinder Surprises (I don’t want to buy Kinder Surprises).  Also I cannot get a credit card.  (I don’t even want a credit card but I do want to start getting a credit rating.  Don’t get me started on the credit rating system here). This country does have things ass-about here.

Things ARE expensive.  Whilst it is easy to live frugally, stuff is expensive.  For example, I finally gave up trying to self manage my tight hip muscles the other day.  They’re chronic, and aggravated by sitting in the car for too long over the last few months, and by stress (all that worrying).  I needed a massage.  The cheapest I could find (without resorting to something that looked like it was in the business of supplying happy endings) was $90 an hour.  That’s USD of course.  Plus 20% tip.  And I’m not sure it will fix me up.  But the Rolfing that I really wanted to have starts at about $180.  USD.

We don’t have a cat.  But I just discovered we could foster some temporarily….Life would be perfect.

I have a plan to capture the squirrel when she is sleeping by putting an oven tray over her pot and bringing it inside.  Kind of like catching a spider, except in that case it’s going outside.  A says there will be biting and scratching.


Living the dream

If, of course, it had been a dream of mine to live and work in NYC.  Which it kind of wasn’t.  My dream, actually, was to live and work overseas, I never thought it would be NYC.  And because I never did it as a gap year, I kinda thought I’d missed my chance.  But then A came along, and he can’t stay in one place for long.  So here I am, living the dream.


For the last few months I’ve been obsessing over being able to sell myself, being able to articulate clearly what it is I do, what it is I like, being able to state my PURPOSE.  I still can’t do it.  But I need to be able to, right?  I need to be able to meet with new people – recruiters, contacts, friends and tell them who I am, what I do.  I need to update my resume, have it sharp and to the point, work my LinkedIn connections.  Or who will hire me?  No one here knows me.

So I’ve been worrying about how to do this.  Worrying that I can’t, that I won’t do it right, or well enough.  I’m great at worrying.  I’ve been worrying that I have to fit in with THE WAY THINGS ARE DONE or I won’t get a job.


The thing I have learned, by coming halfway across the world, is that the way I operate at home, when I am just being me, works.  Of course.  I don’t have to be able to articulate my purpose beautifully, be able to sell myself.  I still want to work on doing these things, as I reckon they’ll be helpful.  But all the worrying about HAVING to?  Bollocks. My way works just as well here in NYC as it does in Melbourne.  No worrying needed.

So what I am actually reminded of is that I should always trust my gut.  Because I usually do what my gut says anyway, whilst all the while worrying that it is wrong.


(All the folks reading this who are rolling their eyes, shaking their fists, supportively thinking “I told you so”, I know who you are.  And one day maybe I will believe you).